The Brandable Insider: Failing at Domain Auctions

Success often starts with failure and I have failed many times this year. Some of my failures have been in auctions. There are many times I’ve bid and lost. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. It demonstrates my ability to limit my bidding and not go past my limit. Or as Mike Mann says: “If you beat me in the domain auction, congrats, you paid too much.” Well I’m not as cocky as Mike Mann but I do think disciplined limits when bidding is a good thing. Whether the person that outbid you “paid too much” or not is debatable. That depends on, if and when, and for how much they sell it.

On the other hand we’ve all had the experience of getting into a bidding war and letting our emotions run away with us. In those situations we go past our price limit and end up paying more than we thought the domain was worth. I’ve also had the experience where, in hindsight, I was too cheap and failed to step up and pay the price the domain was worth.

In looking back at recent auctions I see all of these scenarios at work. (approx. $40) This is a name I bid on at SnapNames some months ago. I don’t remember the exact sale price. But I later discovered I was bidding against Page Howe, who used to be a regular on Domain Sherpa. Shop is a very strong keyword and Jar is a trending word in brandables. Several names with ‘Jar’ in them are published at BrandBucket and in this context it connotes money as in a coin jar or money jar. I could see this name being used for a mobile payment company, a retail platform or an app. ($80) Both Trip and Wallet are strong keywords. There are elements of travel and money in the name. Two strong industries. Great name for a travel services brand offering products or services akin to the startups, TripLingo, TravelNuts, HeadOut, Wanderable etc. ($37) A good buy for one of our DN Geek readers at a GoDaddy auction. It’s now published on BrandBucket at around $4K. Dictionary words with an LY ending are very popular and hard to find. Existing startups include Buffer, StartupBuffer, BufferBox etc. I probably could have bid a little higher on this one. ($1,058) A recent auction at NameJet. I’m new to 4Ls but I liked this one for two reasons. One, it rhymes with “paid.” Second, because it’s pattern is a couple of Ds surrounding AI (artificial intelligence). Who knows if an end user would see it that way or not so I didn’t bid very high on this one and I was surprised at the final price. ($3,100) I really, really wanted this name. I think the healthcare industry is huge and ripe for disruption. I think this name has huge potential. I actually went to $3K on this name and it was one of those where I got carried away and went past my predetermined limit. So maybe just as well I didn’t win it. Only time will tell. ($72) This is a classic BrandBucket style name. The kind of name used for a startup consultancy, incubator or accelerator. That said, it wasn’t special enough that I wanted to pay more than $30 or $40 for. ($155) Nice price for a dictionary word. Not an often used tense of the verb, but nonetheless a useful domain or brand for startups in the shopping, legal or consultancy industries.$100) In these days of peer to peer markets, new platforms are emerging for finance, loans, investing, fundraising, charity and everything else you can imagine. So, swap, has a lot of relevance in the startup world, in my opinion. Hero is a strong keyword and is used by several successful startups including: HealthHero, LegalHero, EmploymentHero and the billion dollar company, DeliveryHero.

May all your sales be to end users and all your bids be winners!

Meanwhile, here’s some tasty brandables for sale at NameJet this week:

Keith deBoer

Keith DeBoer is a part-time, domain investor with an emphasis on brandable domains. He's a domain industry writer with published content at BrandBucket, DomainShane and NamePros. He's also a brand ambassador for BrandBucket and by day, he works as an Internet consultant.

27 thoughts on “The Brandable Insider: Failing at Domain Auctions

  1. Hey Keith.

    Check out my website, there might be some brandable names there that you might be Interested in that you cannot get outbid on. 🙂
    There are some names that are not on the site yet: and a few more.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. I’ve been outbid so much during the past two months that I’ve been reconsidering my acquisition strategy for 2017. Here are some names that I have been outbid for during the past couple of months: – I was bidding up to $2k – auction ended at $3k – I was bidding up to $150 – auction ended at $256 – I was bidding up to $250 – auction ended at 575 – I was bidding up to $250 – auction ended at $535 – I was bidding up to $100 – auction ended at $358 – I was bidding up to $251 – auction ended at $276 – I was bidding up to $75 – auction ended at $281 – I was bidding up to $101 – auction ended at $350

    1. @Doron

      I think you mean – not Healthero – which has been regged since ’99.

      Side Note: – BrandBucket (MK) – Asking 17X – $9,995 – HugeDomains – Asking 6X – $2,195

      Any ideas how HugeDomains came up with their asking price? I’ve seen them pay a lot less for domains they price higher. Maybe, they have a pricing model for Color + Animal?

      1. Yeah, sorry I meant HealthHero with double H. HugeDomains has been winning a ton of auctions in this price range lately. There’s a good quality thread about this going on over at NP currently. I don’t know what their logic behind pricing is but from what I have seen they price the fast majority of their domains in the $2.5k range.

        1. At those sort of levels they’d need to consistently sell 1 in 5 names they buy just to break even. I don’t see them ploughing this furrow for too much longer…

          1. Twill be interesting to see how long they pursue this business model. Sometimes people with deep pockets can sustain short term losses for a greater gain down the road. In the near term it doesn’t seem to make financial sense.

    2. I have been outbid a lot lately too. I have capped my bids since November.
      A lot of brandable .Com names I paid $20 for last spring are now selling in auctions for hundreds of dollars, if not thousands.

      I have sold a few brandable .Com names lately in the hundreds and thousands of dollars range, that I only paid hand reg prices for last spring and summer.
      I am also getting enquires about some generic keyword domains that I own. I could be selling a few of those domains soon too.
      December has been busy for sales and enquires! Hopefully it will continue into 2017. Fingers crossed.

  3. Keith,

    StartChimp, I can’t believe I missed that one! I like Chimp domains. I would have paid up to $125.
    BrandChimp redirects to my BB portfolio.

    I also try to stay away from bidding war. Unfortunately, I have over paid for Mindity at $75 + renewal..

    I also got eBuffer for the same price I got Bufferly 🙂

  4. I guess I m the one matching HugeDomains on the price war.
    Have snapped up 110 domains from Godaddy auctions in last couple of months. & were my buys from today 🙂

    1. Obviously, the most likely end-user market for cannabis related domains is the US right now and not the UK but I think it is still a good buy at that price. If you won’t find an end-user for it I am sure you can liquidate a name like this to another investor for the same price or perhaps with a profit. Only time will tell 🙂

        1. Ditto Doron’s comments. I would only add that one of the largest medical MJ research companies is based in the UK. Can’t think of the name at the moment. Long term I think MJ names are going to pay off nicely. But they need to be held for several years.

  5. There’s been tons of competition in auction and in the drop lately. i haven’t won a domain in over a month. I refuse to overpay. I prefer to buy privately. But its hard at times to find reasonable sellers. Hopefully some good deals come through soon.

    1. Good thoughts and wishes for the coming year. One silver lining to the higher prices in the aftermarket is that it also pushes up the prices of the names we currently own. All ships move up in a rising tide!

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